If You Had A Choice
I remember a song by the Impressions from my childhood. I went to YouTube to make sure I was not imagining things and I verified it all. Time and again I remind my readers, I am a girl from Kansas City raised by church-going people. We moved to California and it was culture shock of amazing proportions.
I was questioned about my feeling towards a certain actress. I knew that I was not asked why I don’t like this performer randomly.. I love a debate but I select the ones I will participate in. This was my friend, so I bit. Before the discussion was over I was told( in so many words) that my feeling about this actress made my friend believe/feel/think we would not be friends if she had been born lighter. I do not feel that way. I did not think my opinion of an actress was indicative of me, but it brought me to a point that I wanted to discuss and write about.
I am passionate about race. I also want to believe that in my lifetime the racism bulls%#@ will disappear. Is that idealistic or naive? Perhaps. However in the wake of a massacre in a church, in the midst of several states introducing bills/ legislature to ban a flag that throughout the history of The United States of America has insighted violence, implied white supremacy, represented death and destruction, I need to believe something positive will result from all of this.
I venture to say my feelings about being black is NOT unique. Some members of the white race may find this hard to believe or understand, but black people are proud people. Black people LOVE being black!The actress I spoke of earlier is “conveniently black”. My friend pointed out others, my response is the same for them as well. The difference being I have NOT heard of an incident in which the others have “tah-tahed” being black off when directly questioned. Is she(the actress) a coward or is she utilizing a special gift( the gift of the chameleon)? “If you had a choice of color, which one would you chose my brother?”Black people do not want what YOU(White people) have; we only want what is ours… YOU argue,” go out and work hard, pull yourself up by your boot straps like other groups”. Then I offer you a couple events in history and places where black people did just that, and the end results are Rosewood, Florida or Tulsa,(Greenwood Neighborhood)Oklahoma massacres. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Undermining the efforts of the black race in America is a well thought out plan. We are not “belly-aching”, we have valid substantiated gripes.
In this time period, where so much information is readily available, the thought of someone passing for white is bazaar . Yet not so very long ago you had a woman who by most accounts is clinically white, passed herself off as black. How bazaar was that? No job application you fill out now will fail to ask a question about your race, the difference now is you don’t have to answer. Once upon a time it was against the law to say you were one race when you KNEW you were another, now one must be cautious not to break the law by being too insistent in asking about someone’s race.
What must it be like to wake in the morning and NOT be concerned about race. I have friends and acquaintances who have lived abroad for several years and what stands out about the experiences they speak of is the LACK of or down-right absence of racial incidents! I cannot fathom that thought. I want to see, feel, believe one day I will experience those things, right here in America. Back to the choice; what must it have been like to be trapped in a society and a body that threatened your existence because of your look….and to have a magic wand that could make all of that disappear, your own personal cloaking device. I imagine it was very similar to what we have STILL have in America. A great deal has changed, but a great deal remains the same.
I really enjoyed this piece!!